1. New Young Pony Club – Dress
Sometimes, NME likes to stay in, put some stupid clothes on for laughs, turn the stereo up really loud and jump around on the bed like a four-year-old. And when we do, the music we’re cranking is inevitably New Young Pony Club, a band so sexy their existence threatens a critical mass of awesomeness that will drag the entire world screaming into a black hole of cool. We’ve been hitting their MySpace hard for news of a comeback and, lo and behold, what did we turn up the other day but this raw, randy cover of an early PJ Harvey classic. The band say Peej is going to be a “big influence” on their next album. This we must hear…
2. Jay Reatard – It Ain’t Gonna Save Me
What’s this? A Horrors/Peñate-style reinvention, heaving with musical references to Detroit techno, Captain Beefheart, bhangra and traditional Latvian lullabies? A tender, erudite evocation of lost love that recalls Byron at his poetic heights? Don’t be ridiculous: it is, of course, more straight-up, no-frills garage-rock from Mr Reatard, the small voice of riotous, stripped-down sanity in a world of affectation and clever-clever. This is the first track to be released from Jay’s new album ‘Watch Me Fall’ and is characteristically adrenaline-drainingly awesome. Shut up, stop whinging and mosh.
3. The Twilight Sad – Reflection Of The Television
Scottish emo-gaze doesn’t come any bigger than this. In fact, it doesn’t usually come at all, but it should – over five atmospheric minutes, the broad-accented despair on display here slowly builds up from Snow Patrol ‘boo-hoo-hoo’-ness into Explosions In The Sky awe-metal. And what’s the cause of this epic angst? Well, according to the chorus, “There’s people downstairs”. Is it the fear of cocktail parties or of group oral sex? You decide…
4. The Mars Volta – Cotopaxi
“Don’t beat around the pulpit, there is no lost and found/Where is the devil waiting?” Welcome back, boys, good to see you haven’t become any less batshit insane. ‘Cotopaxi’ is a very special slice of crazy, with its post-hardcore guitar frippery and ol’ Cedric’s shrieked vocals; just the thing we’d prescribe to escaped mental patients so they can see how normal – on the grand scheme of things – they actually are. Superbly damaged.
5. Montt Mardie – We’re All The Pirate Bay
Though not, strictly speaking, accurate, Swedish singer Mardié’s vote of solidarity with the beleaguered internet buccaneers is a fine example of the modern protest song. “Don’t write songs to make money/I write them for people to sing along,” he croons over a preppy ’80s backing that’s part Yello, part Le Tigre
and bolstered by the slightly-egotistically sampled sound of a baying crowd. Yeah! Fuck paying for stuff! Seriously, though, do.
6. The Gaslight Anthem – Great Expectations (Acoustic)
If you have a heart, Brian Fallon will break it with this nakedly raw rendition of ‘The ’59 Sound’’s standout track. Recorded at the Explore Music studio in Toronto earlier this year but only emerging now as an exclusive download, it’s the ideal reminder of why we fell so hard in love with them last year. If you haven’t already, start learning all the words so you’re in fine voice come festival season – there’ll be singalongs, oh yes there will.
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7. Patrick Wolf – Hard Times
This most urgent and compelling of tracks from ‘The Bachelor’ finds Patrick calling for “revolution” over tense indie guitar and flourishing curlicues of violin. The video is no less flamboyant, either. Conceived as a tribute to Wolf’s idols Elvis and Klaus Nomi, it’s a glowing neon-and-ultraviolet kaleidoscope of the strange and marvellous – and Paddy sports a quiff to rival La Roux’s. Well, almost.
8. Wild Beasts – Hooting And Howling
One of last year’s most captivating albums was Wild Beasts’ debut ‘Limbo, Panto’, an intriguing beast that capered around a tapestried background of English wit, gaudy emotions and Hayden Thorpe’s wood-haunting Willo The Wisp falsetto. Recent live shows have suggested they’re destined to break out of their eccentric niche, with a wider, more expansive sound reminiscent of The Associates and Bombay Bicycle Club’s recent efforts. ‘Hooting And Howling’ may talk of witches’ brews and coffin bearers, but don’t be scared – it’s as charming as it is spooky.
9. Frankmusik – Confusion Girl (Don Diablo Mix)
Young Vincent Frank is the latest artist to get retooled by Don Diablo. Frankmusik’s glossy boy-pop embraced the charts with ‘Better Off As Two’, and ‘Confusion Girl’ looks likely to take it to the next base. Whereas Frankieboy often careers into the arms of irritation, this romantic, spacey remix is serotonically soothing. Well, until it breaks into a weird skiffly section and then some Van Halen-by-way-of-Daft Punk soloing. Stick with it and you’ll find yourself dropped on a quietly transcendent plateau that feels like watching the sunshine dance on the inside of your eyelids as you lie in the park.
10. Miike Snow – Cult Logic
Deftly slinking into the gap left in euphoric Scando electro-pop by The Whitest Boy Alive going a bit rubbish and Lo-Fi Fnk still not releasing any new stuff are this Swedish trio. They actually come with a platinum pop pedigree – two thirds of their number are producers of Britney’s ‘Toxic’. Gently Balearic and blissful, this is how Mr Hudson sounds inside his own head.